Ross & Thomson

Ross, Horatio & Thomson, John


Active 1845 – 1864 (when Thomson retired)

Edinburgh from Calton Hill, c.1855

222 - ross & thomson edinburgh

James Ross started experimenting with the calotype around 1842 and in 1846 opened a studio on Calton Hill. He later formed a partnership with John Thomson, who specialised in daguerrotypes, and from 1848-1864 they ran a studio together at 90 Princes Street.

On 14 June 1849, they were issued a Royal Warrant, the first photographers in Scotland to be so honoured, as “Photographers in Edinburgh to her Majesty”. This was apparently as reward for an album of landscape views of the capital presented to Victoria.

In 1849, they developed an albumen on glass process, which offered a print quality superior to the calotype and made excellent ambrotypes (lightly printed glass negatives mounted on a black background, which then appear positive). The quality of their work was rewarded with a Council Medal at the London International Exhibition of 1851, one of only three awarded for photographic prints. The Proceedings of the Exhibition praise “the extreme clearness observable in the details of their landscape scenery, and the great delicacy of the delineation of objects in general, we may take notice of the excessive beauty of the tints which their works exhibit; not only are the shadows deep and Rembrandt-looking, where suitable to the effect required, but the middle distances display a beauty of colour nowhere equaled…”

At the Aberdeen Mechanics Exhibition of 1853, in addition to calotypes and daguerrotypes, they exhibited a stereoview of draught players. Few of their stereoviews have been identified. The example here is ascribed to them by a blindstamp.

In 1864, Thomson retired and Ross then formed a partnership with Pringle, until his retirement in 1878.